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Algae prevention with Barley straw?

I ran across an interesting snippet in the May/June issue of
Organic Gardening today.  Here is the pertinent information
which may be relevent to those pond keepers on the list... but
my main purpose is to get some thinking going on the topic.
It might have general (aquarium) application.

May/June, 1999, Organic Gardening, p.9:
"If you do have a pond or water garden, you may have encountered
problems with excess growth of cloudy or stringy green algae--
especially early in the season, before water plants leaf out
and reduce the amount of light hitting the water.  A little
algae growth is perfectly natural and provides a food source
for some of the creatures that live in the pond, but if algae
are growing *too* well, you can reduce the problem simply by
adding a small amount of straw to the water.
  British researchers recently published several reports
confirming that straw reduces algae growth in ponds.  They
concluded that *barley* straw works the best for some reason.
  For severe algae problems, use 3 ounces of barley straw for
every square yard of water surface.  For ongoing maintanence,
apply about half that amount in early spring and then every
6 months or when the straw has rotted away.  Place the straw
inside porous net bags.  Put something buoyant in each bag
so that the nets will float near the surface of the water, where
algae tends to grow."

Has anybody heard of this or know what is going on here?
Does anyone have more details?  Off the top of my head, I'm
guessing that barley straw colors the water and helps cut
out the light.... but its only a guess.  It could also
stimulate massive infusoria and daphnia growth which would
help keep the water clear.  I'm not sure where to get
"barley straw" and I don't have an algae infested aquarium
right now anyways.... so I'm unable to experiment.  However,
I'm tossing this out there hoping that someone might try
it and tell us if it works!

David Robinson
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